Memories of Kathryn Tucker Windham

Published 6:04 pm Friday, January 20, 2023

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The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.

Helen Keller

At the Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival next Saturday night, the four featured storytellers will share their favorite stories of Alabama’s legendary storyteller, Kathryn Tucker Windham, with the audience at the Trojan Center Theater. Whether their stories will bring laughter or tears to the eyes, each will “be felt with the heart.”

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Kathryn Windham spent much of her life sharing her personal stories with audiences all across our wonderful country. And, at each telling, she encouraged her listeners to go home and tell their stories of family, friends and community. “There is no  better way to say “I love you’ than to say, ‘Come sit by me and let me tell you a story.’”

I have many favorite KTW stories. Some make we laugh; others bring tears to my eyes.

One year, Kathryn, as she insisted she be called, was the featured teller at the Chili County Christmas event at the We Piddle Around Theater. She chose the event because she wanted to tell “just” her Christmas stories. We listen; we played the combs and sang Christmas stories. The “grand dame of storytelling” had lunch at the Brundidge United Methodist Church that Saturday. When I took her back to the hotel, I excused myself so she could take her usual after dinner nap.

“No, come sit with me a while.”

We talked about different things and times in our life but, suddenly Kathrine surprised me by saying “I want you to come to my funeral.” She must have seen my surprise. “Not that I think you’ll enjoy it; I think you will understand and appreciate it.”

I was honored to be at Kathryn Windam’s funeral.  I understood what she meant.

Some time later, my thoughts drifted back to a day at Kathryn’s house in Selma. She showed me a beautiful hand-made quilt. “I want to be wrapped and buried in this quilt.”

Puzzled. “Isn’t  that a Gee’s Bend quilt?” I asked surprised and those words must have conveyed my thought. That quilt must have cost thousands of dollars.

Kathryn smiled. “Well, you ‘can’ take it with you.” I laughed at her humor.

Saturday night will be a special time at the Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival. So, come. Let Donald Davis, Bil Lepp, Tim Lowry, and Barbara McBride Smith tell you their stories about Kathryn Tucker Windham, a very special lady who filled countless lives by simply inviting them to sit down and let her tell them a story. Come, and feel with your heart.

The culminating performance of the Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival will be at 6 p.m Saturday, January 28, at the Trojan Center Theater.